Coronavirus COVID-19 (2019-nCoV) Thread - 2021 Breaking News

Covid cases in the US have tripled in the last 2 weeks.

This is a good article about breakthrough cases, what “mild COVID” means, and what it means for personal risk evaluation.

All of this is making people—yes, probably mostly vaccinated people—rethink the basic questions they thought their vaccine had answered for them: Can I go to restaurants and bars unmasked? Can I go back to the office? Can I see my grandma? Can I go on vacation? Can I unmask at my people-facing job? Can I have a wedding, or a party? The answer to those questions is not quite as easy as “yes, if you’re vaccinated.” It depends partly on how many in your group are vaccinated, but the actual answer is basically the same as it’s been all pandemic: It depends on your risk tolerance, it depends on what is happening with case counts locally (though as more people travel, this might become a less reliable tool), and it depends on any unique risk factors in your group. Kass’ perspective felt novel to me: She said that she suspects that in the end, a lot of people are going to end up boosting their immunity by suffering through a mild case of COVID. So no one should feel that bad about getting sick after they’re vaxxed. What matters is getting the order right: “If everyone who gets vaccinated still gets COVID but doesn’t die, that’s a success,” she said. The issue is that it doesn’t feel like a success for vaccinated people.

That’s an excellent article. Here are the first two paragraphs. I’ve bolded the part that gave me pause…

Recently, one of my colleagues took a trip to Florida. He went to see family, a long-awaited visit that he had previously only managed to make once during the pandemic, driving the whole way from New York while “peeing behind dumpsters.” Now that everyone was fully vaccinated, it seemed totally reasonable to fly there, and to have everyone gather, unmasked, together. It was a relief and a joy. They even went to a hockey game indoors with thousands of people.

When my colleague got home, he started to feel like he had a cold. He didn’t think much of it—until he got a call from one of his family members in Florida who had tested positive for COVID-19. Eventually, all the adults that gathered on that trip got sick, including his mother-in-law and father-in-law. My colleague’s wife also tested positive; he didn’t, but given his symptoms, including loss of smell, it seemed like a probable COVID case.


I think the reality is that the virus is going to find a lot of us. What percentage is anyone’s guess, but the chances are good that the virus is going to test all of us, including the vaccinated, in meaningful ways, even if we don’t know it. And by that I mean, we’ll visit a restaurant, walk through our apartment lobby, go to the bank or post office, or have a visit with a friend, and the virus will be there waiting for us. It was easier to evade the earlier versions of the disease - if you gotta go to some place indoors, spend less than 10-12 minutes there and wear a mask, and chances are, you’ll be okay. Not so now.

I kinda had a freakout a few weeks ago when I saw the Israeli data indicating reduced efficacy of the virus. Having taken in more data, I’m somewhat bringing myself to accept the fact that I might end up having an encounter with the virus but my chances of surviving it, while knowing full well it’s not 100%, are at least good. I also do other things to tune up my immune system such as taking vitamin D and C, and I’ve tried to eat more anti-inflammatory foods like fruits and vegetables. I accept that I might end up getting COVID but I just want to get it when my immune system is ready for it and hopefully my wearing a mask and being vaccinated will reduce the viral load. Who you catch it from may also be a factor - I am going to operate on the assumption that it’s better to catch COVID as a vaccinated individual from another vaccinated individual, as opposed to being in a room full of unvaccinated individuals and catching it that way.

What worries me going forward is the reality that COVID is always mutating. It mutates every time it infects someone because it makes mistakes whenever it copies itself. Most of these mistakes are duds and mean nothing. But when you have a virus that is already far more infections than its original ancestor and is spreading like wildfire in an unvaccinated population, the math is not on our side. One of those mutations could make COVID into something that is much closer to the original SARS, which was so infectious that it spread through central air conditioning and plumbing in apartment complexes. And that would be a nightmare from which we wouldn’t soon wake up.

The attitude of the journalist friend is astounding to me.

Mostly, he felt frustrated. He’s a journalist—he’s pretty tuned in to the news. He knew breakthrough cases were possible, but he had seen many assurances that they were extremely rare and not that big of a deal. “I feel like I had very inaccurate information,” he told me, “and I would have made my decisions in a very different light if I knew what I know now.” He would have worn a mask at the hockey game, for example—even though no one was wearing a mask at the hockey game, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it’s fine for vaccinated people not to wear masks inside.

So he goes to an NHL game in a stadium (in FL, one of the early states to experience a Delta surge) full of thousands of screaming fans, none of them wearing masks including his cohort, and he’s surprised he contracted Covid? The guy’s FIL is undergoing treatment for a serious illness on top of that. As people have already said in multiple threads, people clearly don’t know how to do risk assessment.

The CDC has always said that likelihood of getting infected depends on time and distance. If you’re going to be in close proximity to people for hours on end, (i.e., a long car trip or plane ride, or staying overnight with somebody), you’re absolutely going to have a higher risk, whether you’re vaccinated or not.

Because they don’t seem to be stamping it out like they used to.

Apparently, masks don’t work terribly well against the common cold. I read (well, browsed) some very math-heavy medical articles that hypothesized that masks work much better against covid because it takes so many viral particles to infect someone, so even a modest reduction in the viral load in the air makes a big difference. If Delta infects with fewer particles and generates a lot more vital particles, masks may not work very well against it.

Just to be clear: masks should be worn. Masks are absolutely better than no masks, just like vaccines are absolutely better than no vaccine. But relying on masks and social distancing yields fewer returns with this variant. The takeaway from the delta vaccine should be to maintain vigilance. If you’re vaccinated, you probably don’t need to be quite as vigilant and fearful as we were back in the spring of 2020 or January 2021. But we’re still in the boxing ring and COVID is still coming at us. We have to keep our gloves up.

I think that depends on if they’re talking about the rhinovirus-caused common cold. If a cold is caused by a common coronavirus, it may be blocked by masks. I saw a paper that was simply coughing onto dishes and culturing later (with and without masks). The masks were physically able to stop both coronaviruses and influenza viruses, but were unable to stop rhinoviruses. The difference is that coronaviruses and influenza viruses are enveloped (lipid membrane) viruses, while rhinoviruses only have the capsid (protein coat) on the outside. So they have different structures that affect how they interact with masks.

192,839,005 total cases
4,142,582 dead
175,357,704 recovered

In the US:

35,146,476 total cases
625,808 dead
29,458,403 recovered

Yesterday’s numbers for comparison:

This is when i miss the “like” button. Because this is neat, but i don’t really have anything to say about it. So in another forum I’d just “like” your post.

New infections among Cambridge (MA) residents have increased in July, with 83 confirmed and probable cases reported so far this month (July 1-20), according to the Cambridge Public Health Department. … In Cambridge, of these 83 confirmed or probable cases, 42% were vaccine “breakthrough” cases, meaning they were fully vaccinated but still got infected… The proportion of vaccine breakthrough cases in Cambridge this month mirrors trends recently reported in Massachusetts and other states.

Also note, 67% of Cambridge residents are fully vaccinated.

Rates are still rising in several states, with Louisiana, Arkansas, Alaska, and Mississippi among the worst. On the seven-day average of new reported cases, Louisiana is now back at the level last achieved on January 16 of this year, and is 3/4 of the way to the record high it achieved on January 9

We’re plunging into a black hole here in Hawaii. Today 243 new cases were recorded, the worst day since January 5. Three deaths too.

193,425,474 total cases
4,151,725 dead
175,741,160 recovered

In the US:

35,213,594 total cases
626,172 dead
29,478,173 recovered

Yesterday’s numbers for comparison:

New cases per day worldwide was well below 500,000 for a couple of months; that trend is now over.

The US daily new case graph show the same type of development:

That’s scary, as Hawaii had a relatively high vaccination rate.

Unfortunately, only 53% of people are fully vaccinated and only 64% of adults. Hawaii has a very low infection rate so I bet it needed around 85% vaccinated to avoid a surge. The good news is that ~ 85% of people 65 and over are vaccinated so deaths may remain fairly low. (fingers crossed!)

That’s 59.5% for Hawaii as of yesterday. The governor has promised to lift all Covid restrictions if we can reach 70%. That rate seems to be rising by only 0.1 percentage points a day, so it may take awhile.

The unvaccinated account for 97% of all new Hawaii infections. One of the three deaths yesterday was a fully vaccinated Oahu woman, which is concerning. She reportedly had some underlying issues though.

Oops. NYT might be a little behind in their vaccination updates. Still, plenty of people who are not immune. The 97% of new infections being unvaccinated is very encouraging if we consider that the dominant variant is Delta. That means that vaccinations are holding up well. Deaths will skew older people and those at high risk, the majority of which will be vaccinated. So the parameter to look for is whether deaths surge as much as cases. If Hawaii is anything like UK or, even better, Israel, there is a definite disconnect between cases and hospitalizations/deaths because of their vaccination rates.

I just heard that makes two fully vaccinated deaths in Hawaii. But apparently both had many serious underlying health issues.